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In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  2,858 ratings  ·  110 reviews
The works of the Buddha can feel vast, and it is sometimes difficult for even longtime students to know where to look, especially since the Buddha never explicitly defined the framework behind his teachings. Designed to provide just such a framework, In the Buddha's Words is an anthology of the Buddha's works that has been specifically compiled by a celebrated scholar and ...more
Paperback, 486 pages
Published July 28th 2005 by Wisdom Publications (first published January 1st 2005)
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James Carr It can get repetitive. I enjoyed it but I confess there were several suttas that I easily fell asleep from the sheer repetition.

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Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Researchers believe that "The Buddha" ( a term meaning "The Awakened One" ) was an actual man named Siddhartha Gautama that lived in India over 2,600 years ago.

His teachings were passed down for several centuries after his death via an oral tradition until they were written down on collections of palm leaves. These are stored in the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon, the texts of the oldest surviving form of Buddhism known as Theravada. The Sutta Pitaka consists of 5 "Nikayas" or books/collections.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blue
So, reviewing and assigning stars to the words of the Buddha, is kind of like pronouncing judgement on the prophecies of Christ, Moses, or Muhammad. It's a bit presumptuous. However, I'm not really evaluating the Buddha's thoughts, per se (that would take a lot longer to do than I have available here), but rather this book, including the translation and selection of these words by Bhikkhu Bodhi (an American Buddhist monk). In fact, in front of each section, there is a bit of commentary and expla ...more
Jan 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
So far, I'm having a really really hard time with this book. Each chapter is set up with the author/editor telling you HIS interpretation of the sutras and then finally giving you the sutras at the end of the chapter. Which seems a totally bass-aackward way of doing it, because you don't have a clue what the hell he's talking about most of the time (unless you want to flip back and forth in the book).

The other thing that really bothers me about the book is the dogmatic view on cosmology. I know,
Craig Shoemake
This is the most recent of several Pali-only anthologies of Buddhist texts I've read, the other two being Word of the Buddha and Path To Deliverance, both by the famous German monk Nyanatiloka. (The latter is especially good.) This one is easily the most comprehensive.

For those of you who find the suttas tough going on account of their lack of thematic organization, this book will be a godsend. As Bhikkhu Bodhi explains in the introduction, the idea for it had its genesis in a series of lecture
Stephen Rennolds
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Buddhists
As a Tantric practitioner for years it was wonderful to discover so many of my personal realizations in this book. If you aren't Buddhist and/or have no interest in Buddhism, obviously this book won't mean much to you.

If you are Buddhist, this is a very enlightening read. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. :)
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I pick this book up again and again. It's just the end all book on Buddhism for me (if there could be an end all book). There's so much in here, you could spend a lifetime studying this one book. I heard Bhikkhu Bodhi speak last year, and he seemed so quiet and easygoing, such an unassuming man. But what a scholar. That an American monk has written such a definitive book on Buddhism is fantastic (Although I suppose a lot is translation, not commentary). I will never tire of this book.

I've read s
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic introduction to Early Buddhist Sutras, but not to Buddhism itself. I also really like how the 10 chapters are almost like 10 levels of Buddhism, from basic lay practice to galaxy-brain metaphysics (which is still built on the 4 Noble Truths). Some things that I appreciate are how agnostic the Buddha was: maybe agnostic isn't the right term, but what I mean is that he didn't talk about a lot of the things people expect from systems of belief. He limited his teaching, in his ow ...more
Peter Crofts
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The title says it all. This is as close as you will get to what the Buddha actually said. That may seem like an odd comment, but there is a lot of material out there that offers little to no reference to the initial building blocks of Buddhism.

The suttas are somewhat like Socratic dialogues, though the ultimate conclusion of each is predetermined.

If you are looking for an introductory text to early Buddhism you might want to start with the Dhammapada, or a primer like Glenn Wallis' "The Sayings
Mohammad Ali Abedi
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I did not want to read a Buddhist book as envisioned by a self-help guru written primary for housewives, so I decided to read the original material. The book, "In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon", has organized material from the Pali Canon, which is material supposed to be directly from Buddha himself. The Pali Canon is one of the earliest material and if I understand correctly, it’s something like 40+ volumes, so the book I am reading is a small introduction t ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very approachable, very readable survey of early Buddhism through a selection of suttas from the Pāli Canon and accompanying commentary and explication by Bhikkhu Bodhi. The writing style was clear and easy to follow, definitions concise, and concepts well contextualized. Topics were often treated from several different angles, which not only helped elucidate subtle ideas, but also gave the impression that this anthology is a truly broad, representative slice of the teachings; and though the w ...more
Jason Gregory
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the foundational text for Buddhist studies and for those who practice Buddhism. It is the most important Buddhist text to read for any school of Buddhism because it is the original Pali Canon, the actual discourses of the historical Buddha. This book gives you an insight to early Buddhism and the Theravada school of Buddhism. Most people will likely not start with this book when they begin their Buddhist studies, but in an ideal world this book would be the first book you should read on ...more
van Bilderass
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The dedication to clarity and careful inquiry into the Pali terms are distinct qualities of every work of Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Reading the book in two courses with a big pause in between showed me how far from the path I have strayed. Nonetheless I had a very eloquent and kind companion in the face of the compiler.
Phillip Moffitt
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This anthology is an excellent guide to the Buddha’s teachings. If you think you may be interested in studying the suttas, this is a good book to start with. The book is organized around various topics, from the human condition and how to approach the dharma to mastering the mind and planes of realization.
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The perfect book if you want to get into Buddhism's scripture, the Pali Canon. It's exactly what you'd hope for: A logically categorized collection of the most interesting and useful suttas, with easy to digest introductions to each segment. If you're looking for a middle ground between simply taking your teachers' word and wading through the source material yourself, here it is. ...more
Steve Woods
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism
This is not a straight sit down and read. It is more a reference book for someone who is interested in Buddhist teachings and needs a reference to the canon. This is the nearesy yhing to the Buddhist Bible written in accessible language
Samuel Saul Richardson
Aug 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
I've had this book on my shelf forever but I don't even remember how I got it. I know that I quoted this book a few times but overall I am not a fan. Each chapter started out with a great introduction of the ideas and gave citations to where it was grabbing these ideas from but from there the rest of the chapter was long, drawn out, got away from the point, and repeated itself so many times. As an additional negative point I was looking for an introduction to Buddhism whereas this was more of a ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, religion
"All consciousness should be seen as it really is, with correct wisdom thus: this is not mine, this I am not, this is not myself." ...more
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Honestly one of the best books I read
Zach Daniel
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
While the texts themselves were quite difficult and dense, the introductions and organization of Bhikku Bodhi is extremely helpful.
Jer Clarke
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Important book, but not a modern perspective

This is stating the obvious when it comes to the suttas themselves, but even the lengthy introductions to the suttas at the start of each chapter are seeped in a traditional attitude that made this book hard to read.

Bikkhu Bodhi’s immense work translating the Pali Cannon is of course to be commended, and his translations have a clarity and simplicity that is missing from a LOT of English versions of the suttas.

If your goal is to read a book with a ni
Apr 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Made it through 300 of the 400 pages before it became too esoteric for me. Really appreciated having this broad view of the Buddha's teachings and their context. Made some of the "religious" aspects of Buddhism clearer. And I think I discovered why I couldn't embrace it as my religion. In one section it describes how Buddhism "teaches by the middle" because it avoids two extreme views. The first of eternalism which asserts that the core human identity is indestructible and eternal self. It also ...more
Paul S
Nov 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhist
A great collection of suttas arranged by topic, with introductions by Bhikkhu Bodhi for each section. Suitable for complete beginners and still useful as a quick-lookup resource for experienced practitioners.

If you are Buddhist, especially Theravadin, or even just curious to learn about the Pali Canon, this book is indispensible, one of the best ever put together.

See also Ven. Gunaratana's Mindfulness In Plain English and Ven Walpola Rahula's What the Buddha Taught.
Deborah Welch
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sadhu Bhikkhu Bodhi. Going to the great Sala (library) at Wat Carolina, the Pali Canon is enclosed within its own book shelf, many-many volumes comprising this masterful collection. Now the same Pali Canon has been compiled with emphasis on lay folk within this single volume. For those interested in the original teachings of Shayamuni Buddha, transcribed from oral transmission of Bhikkhus, this is an important read.
Frobeg Ochaeta
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bikkuh Bodhi did an amazing work in gathering The Sutras in the Pali Canon in such a tightly organized book.
It's a must in every Buddhist library.
Although it sometimes feel too academic and it's quite long and heavy. It is a book for reference reading, not in one go, but from time to time letting it sink in and meditating on it. It works pretty much like a Bible.
Ian Joseph
Jul 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Just wasn’t what i was expecting, but i should have known. The title is exactly what it is, the Buddha’s words about the sacred texts. It was my first time reading about Buddhism and I should have started with a beginners guide as this was way to advanced for me. It just wasn’t interesting because i had no idea what he was talking about 80% of the time.
Hugo Bernard
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is going straight to the source, the Pali Canon, with a clear translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi and thoughtful commentaries before each sections. I read it and re-read it. It is a meditation on its own. Highly recommended for anyone wanting the hear Buddha's Words. ...more
Daniel Bisgaard
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This book gets very repetative. At first i thought i was sleepy and i kept reading the same thing over and over. It does say before the book begins that its repetative and that you have to think of the suttas as a saying and not a text. It helps a bit with the read.
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and substantial summary of primary texts.
Bruce Park
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an anthology of the Buddha's early teachings. ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
if you're interested in buddhism with a capital b, this is by far one of the best collections of source texts that exists. it should be a canon text in any comparative religion class. ...more
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Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk from New York City. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944, he obtained a BA in philosophy from Brooklyn College (1966) and a PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School (1972).

Drawn to Buddhism in his early 20s, after completing his university studies he traveled to Sri Lanka, where he received novice ordination in 1972 and full ordination in 1973, bot

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